By L. Clark Tate
Barefoot running is a blast, but even the toughest toesies need a little protection. That’s just what Santa Cruz-based Shamma Sandals provides with their Mountain Goat barefoot running sandals.
This trail-specific model is engineered for us devoted off-roaders. The Mountain Goat barefoot running sandals foundation is a double-layer Vibram sole—a supple Moreflex footbed topping a rough-and-tumble Newflex tread.
The Mountain Goats range in price from $79.95 to $94.95, depending on footbed choice. Options include Hardy Black Goatskin Leather, Honey Yellow Sheepskin Leather, and Naked Top.
The black goatskin is the toughest leather and has a raised, grippy texture to it—It’s harder to scratch or damage and holds up well in rough conditions. The yellow sheepskin is supple and comfortable, and has a certain tacky quality that really hugs the feet. The naked top is ideal for water-bound adventurers and those that plan on running on trails with very wet conditions. It’s also for those of that count every gram of weight in their gear.
The lacing system is comfortable, easily adjusted, and durable; featuring an integrated (i.e. blowout proof) toe plug, gliding toe strap angle adjuster and velcro fastener.
The bummer? One of the great features of Shamma’s classic, Jerusalem Cruisers—an elastic heel—was cut. With the new non-elastic system, I found myself adjusting the sandal at every pace, as sprint-level security is uncomfortably snug for strolling.
Luckily, Shamma’s new “heel strap helper,” a small elastic attachment, inserts enough flex in the strapping system to find a perfect fit. It’s a bit awkward to thread through the first time, but then I had a slip-on running sandal that was always ready to go.
But barefoot running sandals, really? When properly fitted (a 30-day guarantee helps you get it right) the sole is securely held underfoot without shifting or flopping, making for a very light, surprisingly forgettable, running “shoe.”
And, the Goats do their job. The bane of the barefooter is a squarely stomped stone. This princess pounded every rock possible—from pavement to gravel to technical trails—and I barely felt a pea. Touted “ground feel” is diminished, but the freedom to traipse any trail with footloose abandon seems a fair trade.